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Dogs had a howling good time at Bark Ball benefiting Washington Humane Society

Dogs and their human companions had a howling good time at black tie Bark Ball benefit for Washington Humane Society June 14 at the Washington Hilton.
Dogs and their human companions had a howling good time at black tie Bark Ball benefit for Washington Humane Society June 14 at the Washington Hilton.
Jezebel and her human date at Washington Humane Society's Bark Ball June 14. Photo by Tyler Gates of Social Booth

The best-dressed among 500 mostly formally clad canines at the Bark Ball June 14 were rescue dogs sporting a soccer shirt "España 7", and another wearing a "Disabled Vet" vest.

Adopting a dog (or other animal) is a great way to keep calm
Washington Humane Society, Washington, D.C.

La Lupe and Axel were more timely than fancy at the fundraiser that brought in about $625,000 for the Washington Humane Society gala. Here are some of the most glam pooches:

  • Sadie, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, was swathed in a lemon yellow taffeta rhinestone-encrusted, draped gown. Matching flowers adorned each floppy ear. "Her tail never stops wagging. She loves this dress." Sadie's eyes belied the comments of her human companion, also quite fetching in a steel gray sparkling jersey gown and rhinestones galore.
  • Jezebel, a red Maltipoo (Maltese and poodle mix), wore, no surprise, a red tulle gown with black fascinator topper. Jezebel's date wore a dark red and black glittering clingy gown.
  • Bandit, an all-white German Shepherd, wore only an Hermes silk scarf as a collar. Why does a dog rate an Hermes? "Because my wife says so," responded the white-haired, diamond-studded man on the end of the leash.

Several pooch pairs came in matching outfits:

  • Bichon Frises Don Fernando Hi Ho Silver's and Don Julio Blanco's black cummerbunds (a.k.a. belly bands) were barely visible, buried in their profusion of white fluff. Their self-proclaimed tequila-fan Mom explained, "Our boys are wearing belly bands, feminine pads, so they don't pee on the floor."

As if on cue, a dog next to us relieved herself. Faster than a speeding bullet, one of numerous Washington Humane Society (WHS) volunteers wiped it up. I've done that job, among others, as a WHS volunteer at prior events.

  • Mock-Rockette modes for Ginger the Yorkie and Cubby the Westie were chartreusey iridescent paillette gowns with black ruffled skirts and bows, and a smattering of rhinestones.
  • Westies Cosette and Christie wore multicolor glitter. "It's hairspray, non-toxic, and they'll shake it off by the end of the night."
  • Siggy, in a bowler hat, black tie, and tails, resembled a canine Charlie Chaplin. The Bichon Frise-Pomeranian mix (a.k.a. Bichon-a-Ranian, Pomachon, or Pom Frise). Siggy's date assured me that although Siggy kept shaking off his hat, he "enjoys the attention, and looking at all the pretty girl dogs in their dresses."

One of them kept trying to divest herself of a fuchsia and black feather boa that matched the boa and dress of her owner -- who was on her knees. Why? Lola the Lhasa Apso "is a little freaked out."

Entirely understandable. Actually, few dogs seemed to mind dressing up and being in the crowd of about 1,000 people.

The tiniest dog of all, 4.5-pound brown Chihuahua Taco, was checked out mighty enthusiastically by 80-pound Bernese Mountain Dog London. "They loved one another," said London's co-owner. But that opinion comes from one who named her Swiss dog London.

One of the calmest was a bow-tied "Bagel", Basset Hound and Beagle mix, Rooney: "We gave him a little bit of Xanax" (anti-anxiety drug). Was that a smile in the many folds of his mouth?

On a serious note, Axel the service dog in the "Disabled Vet" vest helps Marine Capt. Jason Haag, a retired veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain injury (TBI).

Haag, a board member of K9s For Warriors, says, "We save them from shelters, and they save us."

Does Haag recommend a service dog to help Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, recently released by the Taliban after five years of imprisonment?

"Once Bergdahl's stabilized, it could be very helpful getting him back into society," Haag told me at the June 14 event.

All Bark Ball proceeds directly benefit the animals and programs of WHS, America's only Congressionally chartered animal welfare agency, established in 1870. (Click here for photos. And here's the latest "WHS State of the Animals" report.)

WHS' other fundraisers include Fashion for Paws® Runway Show, where dogs also put on the dog; Sugar and Champagne for canine valentines; Architects for Animals' design competition for shelters for homeless cats.

WHS' next benefits, "Pups in the Park" with the Washington Nationals, sold out like fast balls: June 22 against the Atlanta Braves, and Sept. 7 against the Philadelphia Phillies.

However, you could contribute any time: Washington Humane Society, 4590 MacArthur Boulevard, N.W., Suite 200, Washington, D.C. 202-735-0330.

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